As I mentioned yesterday, I’m participating in a mock draft with a bunch of fantasy bloggers.
My second round pick came 26th overall. I was thrilled to see that Felix Hernandez, one of my top ten overall players, was still on the board, but the way this group was picking, I didn’t feel compelled to scoop him up with my second pick. Justin Verlander, the first pitcher chosen, had gone 11th overall, to a chorus of boos (the software allows players to vote “Good” or “Bad” on each pick, and six of eight who voted found the Verlander pick bad). No other pitcher was selected until Roy Halladay, with the 25th pick. I would have snatched up Halladay, the best pitcher alive, were he still available, and Clayton Kershaw, who’s not far behind Doc, was still on the board along with Felix, but my third round pick was just six picks away, and aces like Jered Weaver, Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Tim Lincecum, CC Sabathia, and Zack Greinke were all still available in addition to Felix and Kershaw.
Since I was guaranteed to nab an ace with my third pick, I spent my second on Marlins outfielder Mike Stanton. As a 21-year-old playing his first full season in 2011, Stanton hit 34 home runs and slugged .537 with an isolated power of .275. He struck out way too much (27.6% of all plate appearances), but he learned to walk (11.6%), fielded well (3.2 RSAA), and may very well develop into a superstar this season. As a fantasy GM, I like the 45 homers he might hit. As a baseball GM, I’d love the 150 wRC+ he’s liable to put up.
Sure enough, when the 31st pick came around and I was up again, Felix Hernandez was still available, so I got my man. He may not win a lot of games, but as I mentioned last night, I can see his ERA dipping back under 3 when he strikes out another 220+ hitters as a 26-year-old in 2012.
As of this writing, the draft is 34 picks deep, and there have been a few big steals, most notably:
1) Evan Longoria going ninth to Jerry Smalls. Others may have been scared off by his .244 batting average in 2011, but much of that is owed to a .239 BABiP, which Longoria won’t repeat. He’s my preseason MVP pick in the American League.
2) Halladay at number 25 to Nash. GMs in this league don’t waste early picks on pitching, as the position is much deeper than others, but we need seven pitchers, five of whom can be starters, so a team with Halladay has to like its chances.
3) Jose Reyes at number 22 to Jeremy Manning. Like my top pick, Troy Tulowitzki, Reyes is a bit of an injury risk, but speedy shortstops who create 49% more runs than the average player don’t grow on trees, and I imagine they don’t fall outside the top 20 picks in fantasy drafts too often.
4) Miguel Cabrera going sixth to Pat Adair. In the real world, I don’t expect much from Cabrera defensively, but in the offense-only fantasy world, Cabrera is probably the best hitter in the game and a safe bet for a .320/.430/.560 season. He was the third first baseman chosen.
5) Andrew McCutchen at number 28 to Jon McMahon. McCutchen is young and versatile, and is a good bet to take another step forward (maybe to a .380 wOBA and 6+ WAR).
More to come, as the draft is moving along faster and I hope to have more to report tomorrow night.